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Towards a Diagnostic Touch (2021)

for a varying amount of performers with amplified spring drums & e-bows

William Forsythe’s Towards the Diagnostic Gaze instructs the participant to hold a feather duster absolutely still. It quickly becomes clear that “despite the relatively simple instruction, it is impossible to hold the feather duster ‘absolutely’ still - the tiniest vibration registers in the trembling of the feathers, which act like extensions of limbs” (1). 


Towards a Diagnostic Touch poses a similar task. Each performer has an amplified spring drum, the spring of which is fixed with fishing wire. The fishing wire is then tied to a fixed point allowing the spring to be stretched taught. Using their other hand, the performer is to hold an e-bow parallel to the spring, using the flesh of their thumb to mute the sound. Their task is to hold the e-bow against the spring without creating any sounds. The micro-movements of the performer’s arms and fingers cause the thumb to shift, the e-bow to grate against the spring, the drum to shake, sudden excitations of the spring to emerge…


Additionally, because the performers are holding the spring drum with out stretched arms, muscular fatigue will set in, causing more frequent and severe micro-movements.


Towards a Diagnostic Touch is an attempt to “illuminate phenomena that are so fully integrated into our unconscious physical selves that they have become invisible to us (1)”


Sources: (1) Wall text for Towards the Diagnostic Gaze. William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects, 2018, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

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